Probably most people think of bone as a hard, rigid material that does not changes. Actually bone remodels by depositing new bone cells and removing old ones all the time.
For the bone tissue that supports teeth, life time remodeling can be helpful or harmful. For orthodontist to move teeth, it helps. But when a tooth is lost during adult time, the bone changes that result can have serious consequences.
When a tooth is lost, the bone that surrounds and supports it melts away or shrinks. This kind of shrinkage can happen in case of periodontal (gum) disease as well. Unfortunately sometimes it happens even naturally to health teeth. This consequence can complicate treatment to replace missing teeth, especially when dental implant restorations are considered, since dental implants, just like natural teeth, need enough bone tissue to surround and support.
So many thanks to advanced dental science, modern bone grafting-techniques have been proven to effectively reconstruct the lost bone tissue. This can not only benefit dental health by allowing more cosmetic and effective tooth replacement, also do facial appearance by increasing support to facial features.
Modern bone grafting techniques are widely performed in dental offices. Under well performed local anesthesia this minor procedure can be painless at all. First, a small incision is made in gum tissue, and then grafting material is added and stabilized, sometimes by tiny titanium pins, sometimes by just a few sutures. The grafted mineral material eventually will be replaced by our regenerated bone tissue.
The grafting material most often comes from sacrificed animals. Actually the grafting material is nothing but minerals abstracted from bone tissue. It has been treated by a laboratory to remove all organic elements to make it sterile and safe. In some specific cases, it can come from the patient him/herself. This kind of self-donor self-recipient grafting material is very bioactive, really helpful to promote bone regeneration, and, of course, safe.
Grafting material comes in many forms: granules, putty or tiny blocks. The grafted material is generally covered by a collagen membrane for optimum bone repair, and sleeps underneath gum tissue for around 4-6 months to heal completely.
Uses for Bone Grafts
Bone grafts are used in dentistry to accomplish the following treatment goals:
- Strengthening Teeth — Severe periodontal disease causes bone loss and weakens teeth by eroding supporting bone and eventually leading to tooth lost. Bone grafting techniques can promote bone tissue regeneration, and increases bone support and help keep teeth in place and lasting.
- Preservation of Jawbone after Tooth Extractions —After a tooth is removed, the jawbone previously surrounding and supporting it will naturally shrink. Introducing grafting material into empty sockets the extractions left can control this shrinking process, sometimes it can stop it. By doing this, replace the extracted tooth with a dental implant later on will be available and easy as well.
- Facilitating Dental Implant Treatments — In dental implant supporting tooth-replacement system, a small titanium post placed and surrounded in the jawbone is attached to a naturally looking dental crown, permanently replacing the missing tooth. Dental implants require enough bone volume and density to achieve idea functionality and high success rates. However, inadequate bone volume or density, caused by many reasons, makes long-lasting dental implant a big challenge. When you read here, you probably already understand how bone grafting procedures help regenerate enough bone to place the implant successfully.
What to Expect
The procedure for placing a bone graft usually takes one hour or two in dental office, under only local anesthesia. It is minor, but surgical. So you may experience some soreness in the area after the surgery, most often up to 3 days. This can be totally controlled by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and/or pain relievers, as well as ice therapy after the procedure.
Good oral hygiene is always of help. Any discomfort can be controlled and relieved by medicine. Infections will also be prevented by prophylaxis and antibiotics regimen following bone grafting procedures.